Recent evaluations suggest 12 million people across West Africa are facing a food crisis following erratic rains that have caused poor food harvests and water shortages. Oxfam is gearing up our response: we hope to reach one million people across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger with humanitarian aid.

In 2012 the Sahel region of West Africa is once again likely to face a serious food crisis that could, if early and effective action is not taken, prove as costly to lives and livelihoods as the past food crises in 2005, 2008 and 2010, which affected more than 10 million people.

Yet early recognition of the coming crisis also provides an opportunity to avoid the mistakes of the past, enabling action months earlier than in previous crises. By investing now in earlier and more cost-effective actions, vulnerable populations can be protected from the worst impacts of the coming crisis at a much lower cost than if we waited.

The response should not stop at meeting emergency needs; it needs also to tackle the underlying causes of crises like this to prevent them recurring. By investing more in longer-term interventions to reduce the people’s vulnerability to external shocks, we can work to break the hunger cycle in the Sahel.  Read more…